Nanci Caroline Griffith (born July 6, 1953) is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, reared in Austin, Texas, who currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Griffith appeared many times on the PBS music program Austin City Limits starting in 1985 (season 10). In 1990, Griffith appeared on the Channel Four programme Town & Country, hosted by John Prine, where she was wearing white pants at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee with Buddy Mondlock, Barry Burton, and Robert Earl Keen.
Griffith was born in Seguin, Texas, and her career has spanned a variety of musical genres, predominantly country, folk, and what she terms 'folkabilly.' Griffith won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1994 for her recording, Other Voices, Other Rooms. This album features Griffith covering the songs of artists who are her major influences. One of her better-known songs is 'From a Distance,' which was written and composed by Julie Gold, although Bette Midler's version achieved greater commercial success. Similarly, other artists have occasionally achieved greater success than Griffith herself with songs that she wrote or co-wrote. For example, Kathy Mattea had a country music top five hit with a 1986 cover of Griffith's 'Love at the Five and Dime' and Suzy Bogguss had one of her largest hits with Griffith's and Tom Russell's 'Outbound Plane.'
In 1994, Griffith teamed up with Jimmy Webb to contribute the song 'If These Old Walls Could Speak' to the AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Country produced by the Red Hot Organization. Griffith is a survivor of breast cancer which was diagnosed in 1996, and thyroid cancer in 1998.
Singer-songwriter Christine Lavin remembers the first time she saw Griffith perform:
I was struck by how perfect everything was about her singing, her playing, her talking. I realized from the get-go that this was someone who was a complete professional. Obviously she had worked a long time to get to be that good.
In recent years, Griffith has toured with various other artists, including Buddy Holly's band, The Crickets; John Prine; Iris DeMent; Suzy Bogguss; and Judy Collins. Griffith has recorded duets with many artists, among them Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, John Prine, Don McLean, Jimmy Buffett, Dolores Keane, Willie Nelson, Adam Duritz (singer of Counting Crows), The Chieftains, John Stewart; and Darius Rucker (lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish). She has also contributed background vocals on many other recordings.
Griffith suffered from severe writer's block for a number of years after 2004, lasting until the 2009 release of her The Loving Kind album, which contained nine selections that she had written and composed either entirely by herself or as collaborations.
After several months of limited touring in 2011, Griffith's bandmates The Kennedys (Pete & Maura Kennedy) packed up their professional Manhattan recording studio and relocated it to Nashville, where they installed it in Nanci's home. There, Griffith and her backing team, including Pete & Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney, co-produced her album Intersections over the course of the summer. The album included several new original songs and was released in April 2012.